Holbeinesque

Antique pendant with enamel and peridot by Robert Phillips, London around 1870

What a blaze of colour and what richness in detail, what a joy of perfect craftsmanship! The elongated pendant presents at its centre a luminous green perdidot weighing more than eight carats. The gemstone is held by four chatons set with rose cut diamonds. A wide frame, set with fiery rubies against a ground of black and white enamel, surrounds the peridot. Its dark color makes the central stone sparkle incandescently. Finely sawn openings act like lace, giving the design a floating lightness. A darkly enamelled pendulum with a natural pearl takes up the contrasting pair of black and white and lends the pendant a playful element. The pendant here revives a distant past. It takes us to a royal court that was overflowing with splendour, beauty and luxury - and powerful as never before. It is the court of the Tudors, the court of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, whose splendour and culture still form an important, perhaps the most important, reference point in early modern British history. In the 19th century, this was all the more true, for recourse to the past was not merely a fashion intended to provide inspiration for dress and architecture, painting and jewellery for the pampered urbanite in London. Queen Victoria's reign was seen as the new Elizabethan age, world power included. Henry VIII's reign was seen as the birth moment of British exceptionalism, independent of the Pope in Rome and flourishing in the arts. Jewellery in the forms of the Renaissance, at that time called "Holbeinesque", was an almost patriotic duty. One of the most successful and well-known goldsmiths of the time was Robert Phillips, who had his shop in Cockspur Street, London. Phillips worked in numerous styles. He was considered a "British Castellani" for his designs in the archaeological style, but his work with enamel and in Renaissance forms was his real specialty. Famous is a cross Phillips created from a portrait of 13-year-old Elizabeth I, now in the British Museum (inv. no. 1978,1002.411). The pendant in question here has survived in an antique case made by a French jeweller, a testament to Phillip's fame on the Continent as well. It is very well preserved, the enamel alone having been professionally restored in a few places. On Historicist jewellery in Britain, especially in Renaissance forms, see Charlotte Gere/Judy Rudoe: Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria, London: British Museum Press 2010, pp. 337-353, on Robert Phillips' relationship to Castellani also Susan Weber Soros/Stefani Walker (eds.): Castallani and Italian Archaeological Jewelry, New Haven/London 2004, pp. 250f., p. 323 with an illustration of a magnificent necklace in the archaeological style.

The journey into the past has retained its appeal right up to the present day. Again and again artists and designers deal with the fashions and forms of past times: Not only postmodernism lived from the recourse to antiquity, but also Picasso loved the classical period and the punk Vivienne Westwoods the baroque. In the 19th century, enthusiasm for the past was even greater. People of the time associated gang concrete qualities with the different artistic styles of their ancestors. For the castles of the nobility, they used the Baroque and Rococo styles to express splendor and grandeur. Churches were often built in the Gothic style, since the Middle Ages were considered a particularly devout period - and the bourgeoisie was particularly fond of the Renaissance. This epoch of free cities with its government of free citizens, rich merchants and patrons of the arts such as the Fuggers in Augsburg or the Medici in Florence exerted a special attraction on the aspiring class of merchants and factory owners of the 19th century. They recognized themselves and their desire for participation and importance in the state in the personalities of the past, had themselves painted in the style of the past and also bought jewelry in the style of the Renaissance.

We want you to be 100% satisfied! For that reason, we examine, describe and photograph all of our jewellery with the utmost care.

You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.

Should you for some reason not be satisfied, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can begin to find a solution together. In any case, you can return any article within 30 days and we will refund the full purchase price.


OUR PROMISE

We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.

Play